Taking care of the kids on snow days

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Unexpected days off present problems for working parents

By Reece Murphy

While much attention has been focused on school closures due to the snow and ice event that gripped Lancaster County last week, one group of people was affected even more than students – their parents.
Faced with the loss of their daily de facto day care, many parents suddenly found themselves scrambling to make arrangements for what they were going to do with their children during the day while they were at work.
For many, like the self-employed photographer Amy Sapp of Frankly, Daisy Photography, it was a tough week.
“It’s been a challenging week, but they stayed with me,” Sapp said of her children – Aaliyah, 12, T.J., 9, and Kaden, 5. “Luckily, I was flexible enough to stay home. If I had a job where it was mandatory that I be there, I’d have been in trouble.
“We cooked, watched a lot of TV, played Wii and ate,” Sapp said. “But they came to work with me Thursday and (Friday).”
Angie Vincent, circulation manager for The Lancaster News, called on her 16-year-old cousin, William Bowers, to help take care of daughters, Ariyana, 7, and Aliyah, 12.
“I told him as long as school’s out and you’ve got to stay home, you’ve got to stay here,” Vincent said, laughing. “He stayed at our house all week.”
Vincent said she understands why schools had to close, but it didn’t make it any easier.
“You prepare for things during the summer,” Vincent said. “But it’s hard to prepare for something like this. If I didn’t have my cousin to help me, guess who would have been running around the office?”
Bowers had a different take on the situation.
“I’m going to tell you, I’d probably would have had a better time hanging out with my friends,” Bowers said, sounding a little shell-shocked, after looking after his younger cousins for several snow days. “I think I’d rather have been at school.”
Mike Moreland of Indian Land was able to work from home and keep an eye on his children, Dustin, 8, and Micaela, 10, while wife, Brandy, went to work in Charlotte later in the week.
While most parents said they understood why schools closed, Moreland wasn’t so convinced.
“I thought they could have gone back to school Wednesday. In fact, I was kind of shocked,” Moreland said. “I drove out there and once I got out of the subdivision, (U.S.) 521 and Shelly Mullis (Road) weren’t that bad.
“What I think about, I guess, is that I’m fortunate enough to work from home,” he said. “But people who are hourly employees, who have to be at work, they’re the ones who are hurting because they don’t have income when they stay home.”
Like most parents interviewed for this article, the biggest problem they faced all week was how to keep bored children busy.
“They were getting very stir crazy,” said Jocelyn Yasinski, also of Indian Land, of her children, Carter, 5, and Hailey, 11. “They played in the snow like crazy the first two days, but there’s only so much playing in the snow, right?”
Yasinski, a preschool teacher with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, said Friday that her children went to school with her.
Earlier in the week, though, she and her husband, Joe, made the best of the situation just spending time with their children, Yasinski said. She said it was time well spent.
“My daughter and I had ‘Girls Day Out’ Wednesday, went shopping and dinner, and my husband and son had ‘Boys Day Out,’ went to McDonald’s and Walmart for toys,” she said.
“But you know what, the way I look at it is my kids are little for such a small period of time, I enjoy every minute I get to spend with them,” she said.

Call reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151